For July 2013, Georgia enacted new sentencing guidelines for people convicted of purchasing, possessing, or having any drug (essentially, other than marijuana) under his or her control.
The new O.C.G.A. §16-13-30 now includes a series of substance weights to determine the appropriate sentence. It should be noted that, regardless of the weight, an individual would still be convicted of the same statute and “crime” (O.C.G.A. §16-13-30, “Possession, manufacturing, etc., of certain controlled substances”), but at least the Court now has limits on sentencing if the quantity of the substance in one’s possession was small and for obvious personal use.
For purchase, possession or control of a Schedule I substance or a narcotic drug under Schedule II:
1) < 1 gram or < 1 milliliter or if placed onto a secondary medium with a combined weight of < 1 gram:
- 1 to 3 years imprisonment
2) > 1 gram but < 4 grams or > 1 milliliter but < 4 milliliters or, if placed onto a secondary medium with a combined weight of > 1 gram but < 4 grams:
- 1 to 8 years imprisonment
3) > 4 gram but < 28 grams or > 4 milliliter but < 28 milliliters or, if placed onto a secondary medium with a combined weight of > 4 gram but < 28 grams:
- 1 to 15 years imprisonment
The purpose of the “secondary medium” distinction is for those drugs which may be combined with something else. The GBI crime laboratory may be able to identify the presence of the substance, but may be unable to determine how much of the substance is present. Unfortunately, this means that a very small amount of marijuana “laced” with another substance can bring a pretty stiff penalty.
The statute includes no enhanced penalty for a second conviction. However, for third and subsequent convictions, the Court can double the applicable sentence.
It should be noted that manufacturing, distributing or possession with intent to distribute, have a separate and distinct penalty structure. The punishment for those “crimes”, regardless of quantity is 5 to 30 years for all Schedule I and Schedule II substances. For second and subsequent offenses, the punishment is enhanced to 10 to 40 years, or life imprisonment.
The substances falling under Schedule I and Schedule II can be found at O.C.G.A. §§16-13-25 & 16-13-26.
For more information, contact Jason Carnell at The Carnell Law Firm - www.carnellfirm.com or call me at 770-729-4809.